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French flour to bear extra costs from poor wheat quality -millers

PARIS, Aug 23 (Reuters) - A fall in the average quality of France’s soft wheat harvest this year will lead to an increase in flour prices linked to additional work for millers to sort good grains from poor ones, a senior member of French millers group ANMF said on Monday.

However, there should be no impact on total volume of flour produced in France this year, said Erick Roos, chairman of ANMF’s process commission and director general of Moulins Soufflet, one of Europe’s biggest millers.

Heavy summer rain in France, the European Union’s biggest grain producer, has slowed field work and led to low readings in some key milling criteria, although the harvest is still expected to rise well above last year’s poor crop in volume.

“It will not be simple and it will cost a little more even if it’s too early to say how much. What’s for sure is that the extra cost has nothing to do in terms of proportion compared to the surge in wheat prices,” Roos said.

French soft wheat prices on the cash market have risen by 70 euros a tonne, or nearly a third, in the past month while September rose to the highest front-month price since March 2008 on Monday, as the market wrestled with rain damage to the EU crop and lower global supplies.

French flour output this year was still expected around last year’s at 3.6 million tonnes. The industry traditionally consumes a little less than 5 million tonnes of milling wheat annually.

This year’s wheat crop in France is expected at nearly 37 million tonnes.

The harvest was expected to show significantly lower average Hagberg falling numbers and test weights, two key quality criteria for the milling industry, Roos said. (Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide)

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